How Does a Magnifying Lens Work?

Written by diana doherty
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How Does a Magnifying Lens Work?
(altankoman - morguefile)

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Convex Lens

A magnifying glass is a convex lens. A convex lens is a type of spherical lens. That means that the magnifying glass consists of two sides of glass and that it is thicker in the middle than the outer edges. The thickness is because the glass bows outward in the middle. The shape of the glass distorts the way we see the image on the other side.

What You're Looking At

When you look through a magnifying glass at an object, you are focusing on one central point of interest. The object under the centre of the magnifying glass appears larger. Objects toward the outside edge of the magnifying glass appear normal size or smaller.

Focal Length

If you put the magnifying glass too far from an object it will appear smaller. The magnifying glass must be placed closer to the object than the distance of the focal length of the glass.


The amount of magnification of an object refers to how many times larger it appears than it actually is. This is usually expressed by saying 2x magnification. The 2x is the power of magnification. When using a magnifying glass, you control some of that power by how far away your eye is from the magnifying glass.


The way a magnifying glass works is by bending light. As light passes through a convex lens, it is bent by the glass. Our eyes perceive the bent light as a bigger object, even though the object itself has not changed in size at all.

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